Monday, April 3, 2006

The Pastor Trap II: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Since posting on The Pastor Trap I have attempted to keep a keen eye on my own behavior. Here is what I have done right, wrong and what someone else did wrong (in my humble opinion... )

Saturday during our church clean up day a member had a heart attack. I did the following:
- Called 911
- Sat with him while we waited for the ambulance (the defibrillator was at the ready, he never lost consciousness and spoke with us the whole time)
- Invited the gathering members to pray with me while we waited.
- Gave a brief prayer
- Asked for whereabouts of wife partly so I could tell her and partly to keep his mind off the pain in his chest.
- Met his wife at the local hospital, hugged and calmed her down before she saw him (she has been given a diagnosis of the beginning of Alzheimers and I knew her husband would be more concerned about her than himself)
- Left messages for their son and daughters
- Drove wife to big city hospital and waited while husband was in surgery (made her eat something)
- Out of surgery and family arrived at same time - brief prayer, left.

Visited another parishioner in the hospital who had taken turn for the worse. Prayed with him and made sure he knew of my presence which was good. Then to his son I berated hospital and shared worries about the care his father was receiving. Bad, very, very bad. NOT a pastoral presence. Damn.

Got a call Sunday morning on the church voicemail from a pastor at another church, same denomination. She had been asked to pray for the person in the first example and she wanted to know exactly what had happened in order to "lift him up in prayer."
My translation: "I want to know all the juicy details so I can look good to my congregation members and can act appropriately worried and concerned. Also this way I can get a rush from the gasp of the congregation when I announce it in church."

I know her better than you, so trust me when I say this was most likely her true motivation... not that she can see it herself.

As for her desire to "lift him up": God knows the details, you do not even need to know the name.

We do the best we can knowing what we know about ourselves. We apologize when we get it wrong and we learn from our mistakes.

By the way, my parishioner in the 'good' example comes home tomorrow after a catherization and a stint. The second one was sitting up today and eating a little bit so I am still holding on to some hope there. I apologized to his son for my behavior.


Songbird said...

will smama, I don't know the exact circumstances of #2, but some poor situations do require an intervention. I felt this way about a church member who died in the hospital last spring. Because the rest of the family didn't belong to the church, and I didn't see them regularly, I had no one to tell what I was observing: that the care did not seem to be adequate for her situation. At that time she still spoke of going home, and without a contact in the family, I prayed that was realistic. It was not, in fact, and I don't think anyone helped them with a reality check about her care. I regret this more than I can say, because I believe she was in unnecessary pain.

will smama said...

You're right, Songbird. The lines are often fuzzy. For me this was my second congregant over 80 that I felt was being treated sparingly because of their age.

In the former case I went in to visit and he was slurring his speech and acting very incoherent. I asked the nurses if he could potentially be having a stroke - or did have one - one of them very condescendingly told me these things were due to old age. I informed them that he had just come in the night before and speaking clearly and coherently. After tests I was shown to be right.

In this case it seemed like they were just letting him die... I understand there is a time and a place for that, but this guy maintains his own home and is very much with it.

In BOTH cases they just assumed that they were old and frail.

Sally said...

Difficult always to draw the line in cases like that. As for juicy details I guess we are all human but I certainly recognise that we don't always need to know everything but sometimes we like gives us power!!!